On Saturday I was the guest speaker at the Doncaster branch social meeting. A number of new members (and some who’d been members for a while but never attended a meeting turned up. It was also good to catch up with Rob Bower, who had leafleted for my Police Commissioner campaign last year but had also not got involved at branch level until now.
One of my pet political theories is that UKIP’s best chances of success generally come in towns which are satellites of major cities. For example, Eastleigh fits this mould – as do Corby, Rotherham and South Shields. Some of our first ever council seats were taken in Hartlepool and Dudley, whilst in Bootle our 38% of the vote at a Council election happened at a time when UKIP was at just 1% nationally. I could give many more examples, but Doncaster fits the bill as a town of real UKIP potential.
At the meeting, there was a real sense that Doncaster has been ‘left behind’. Whereas the city centre in Sheffield has been regenerated (some with the waste of money known as ‘EU funding’ where we are given some of our own money back and told how to spend it), Doncaster has seen little improvement for decades. People are desperate for a change, and UKIP are in a position to offer that.
This feeling of being ‘left out’ or ‘left behind’ is one of the main reasons that such seats are attractive for UKIP: people want change. But there are other factors as well. There’s a much stronger sense of community than in a big city. And the demographics least likely to vote UKIP are not present in a smaller town.
Either way, the people of Doncaster need an alternative to Labour. Neither the Conservatives nor the Liberal Democrats will provide it.